Here is Part 2 of my New Media Trends and Predictions for 2009. In this report I look at major trends while I try to anticipate key changes and the type of innovation taking place around the world of new media communication and professional web publishing.
While yesterday in Part 1 I have covered web and video publishing, content creation, newsmastering, online advertising, internet marketing, in Part 2 my focus is on social media tools, technologies and trends, X-events, online collaboration, P2P and Open Source, learning and education.
I have also reserved a little section to share some of my personal and editorial plans for 2009 as some of you have been asking me about them.
I hope you will enjoy what I am seeing.
In 2009 social media will keep thriving. Innovation will come in the form of further opening up of the existing major social destinations to gather and aggregate any and every aspect of your digital presence.
The Open Stack, OpenSocial, OpenID, and a few other tech acronyms characterize within social media a strong trend toward adopting and using open standards. For example, OpenID is a profile identifying web address that can be used to login to any site that supports it. OpenSocial instead solves the need to utilize any application on any site on the Web, while keeping the same people relationships and profile data you already own elsewhere.
My take on this front is that what you will see happening is the de-centralization of most social destinations. The new open social applications and features you will see in 2009 will allow you to make them local to your own site and community, while remaining internetworked with all social profiles on the many social networks out there.
"Even if Facebook is currently the shiny place, if developers can write and application once and put it loads of places, Facebook will be marginalised."
Instead of having to go to Facebook or Linkedin to talk to your network of contacts and communities of interest, you will be able to bring all of this on your own site and blog.
To those pointing to Ning as the already existing example of such an approach, I reply that while certainly a useful community building tool, Ning still lacks the features and traits that would make my ideal community platform. Despite all of the reasonable excitement around it for being the first distributed community building platform, I find its content organization, navigation and content accessibility very poor, as much as its search function, discussion capabilities and blog functionality. Ning insists on being a hosted solution and unlike WordPress, it doesn't get the support of a large community of developers in getting new features and extensions to its users. I need something much better than that. And in 2009 you will see exactly this.
Google itself, with the recent launch of its FriendConnect social application may be the one introducing some very innovative services and features in the next few months. The MyBlogLog-like interface you can already activate on your site, may likely be the gateway to a new way to participate and join in with people of your similar interests through grassroots, web site-bound but also highly portable, distributed and de-centralized communities.
Twitter is one of the powerhouses of such profound new changes in the way we will use social media, and if you are serious about leveraging the opportunities that the social network can open up for you, if you haven't yet, you will need to start using it and discover its huge potential.
Make no mistake though, like many have done. Social media does NOT mean that all conversations now need to be in the open and that you need to tell everyone what you are up to drink at your next stop in your nightly wonderings. That is one way to use it, but not the only one. Twitter and other similar emerging social communication and conversational tools provide the opportunity to create trusted networks that can enable the fastest and most effective way to share interesting news and stories, light years ahead of any other traditional news service.
I myself have a problem with the shallow conversations. I steer away from them as much in real life as in the virtual one. They consume me lots of time and often I find them inconsequential, preposterous and characteristic of the lazy man's approach to getting noticed in public. On the other hand I am thankful to these tools when they help me be in touch and virtually side-by-side with my real friends and contacts, the ones I really care about. I like to know what some of them are up to, I enjoy reading a bit of their private life and I run to check the references and article suggestions they put out. I am not there for the conversation per se or for having a conversation with anyone who jumps at me with a questions. I am there mostly to learn and pick up rare gems, tech gossip, insider buzz and tips from all of my networks. I am there to help out those asking questions I am passionate about and to reach out for ideas and suggestions from people who think differently than I do.
Problem is people have taken this social media game as a competition for who has the most followers and in the rush many have not really made sense of what they are using this tool for. My take is that, depending on who you follow, going to 200-300 people you follow is the present limit, especially if you want to be able to really follow what these individuals have to say.
If you look at my Twitter channel you will see that I have about ten times more people than follow me than the people I have chosen to follow. This is only because, differently than what I do on Facebook for example, where I like to be open and friendly with anyone who wants to do so, I select very carefully who I chose to follow. I frankly don't buy into this idea that if you follow me I have to follow you back, and therefore I make no difference whether you have got 6500 followers or 24. What I look at is what kind of things and information you are sharing with me and how valuable for me these are. The more useful and interesting stuff you have to share the more likely it is that I will follow you. And, given the above, if you are small and unknown with very few followers, it is even more likely that I will follow you as I don't like to get tips and breaking news from the same circle of insiders, who just pass around the same stories over and over again.
So 2009 will be definitely be a year of maturation for both Twitter as a service as well as for its users who will grow a lot in understanding its best uses and applications. In this direction, in 2009 you will see some truly amazing services built on top of Twitter which will help you manage more effectively the stream of twits coming from your different networks and relationships.
The big discovery in 2009 for many companies will be that you cannot really engineer social media use inside an organization. You can facilitate it, support it, make it emerge, but you fundamentally need to let your own most passionate people find their own best ways to make use of this new conversational tools.
Private social networks, vertical communities, decentralized and portal social media solutions are the keywords for 2009. You will see a lot of new names in this space.
Better metrics. Everyone is talking about them, and there is indeed a wealth of valuable information to extract from the metadata available around your social activity. It is not so much how many followers, friends or contacts you have, but what these people do with the news and stories you share with them. Do they follow your tips and click on them? Do they pass those items on to their trusted friends? or... what kind of people are those following your friends? Who do they influence? What types of information topics characterizes your listeners? And your sources? How good are you at breaking news early for your network of followers?
Finding the best questions and creating tools that enable you to see the big picture under this social media universe could prove extremely valuable in understanding influencers and opinion leaders beyond mere popularity numbers.
2009 marks the first large scale entry of the social shopping metaphor into the mainstream online eCommerce. Beyond what Amazon and eBay have long shown to be the value of recommendations and customer feedback, we are now moving into a year in which you will start benefiting more directly from the advice and recommendations of your own very network.
If until today you have relied on the opinions of some unknown guy posting in a forum or commenting under a blog post, in 2009, you will start to see that your own network of contacts can actually help you find a trusted solution to your plumbing needs as well as recommending you the next camcorder you may want to buy, with much greater effectiveness and reliability than any other traditional approach.
Two are the key things happening here:
"Although customer reviews are nothing new on popular eCommerce sites like eBay and Amazon, in most cases, consumers use the critiques from people they don't know. Now with connective technologies like Facebook Connect, Google FriendConnect, and OpenID, consumers will now be able to see reviews, experiences, and critiques from people they actually know and trust.
As a result, expect to see eCommerce widgets and applications appear in popular social networks, as well as when visiting existing eCommerce sites the ability to login with your Facebook or Google identity. As an example, next time I'm shopping for a laptop, not only will I see reviews from editors and consumers, I will now know which one of my friends uses an Apple computer, and what they think of it."
(Source: Jeremyah Oywang)
Of all things social, social reputation is going to be the one having the most impact on your personal life and on your opportunities to access new project and work offers. In very simple words, what it is going to happen, is a strong shift from personal credentials based on certifications and tests to the emergence of personal reputation profiles built around the spontaneous comments, evaluations and reference comments of your previous team-mates, co-workers, customers and employers.
I see individual persons going around unchecked and deeply lying about their experiences, references and career, to get where they would like to be. How can you still trust a CV or resume and not find out directly by those who met and worked with that person who that person really is. How can you trust that someone mischivious, lazy or outright dishonest will list such personal traits in his CV presentation and why would you trust unchecked credentials when you have the opportunity to spend a little time to find out the truth?
Habit... and misunderstanding that the world is rapidly becoming a different place when it comes to evaluating people. Just like for technology products and services, you don't go to check the official marketing leaflet of a new camcorder to find out whether it is the one you are looking for. You research, compare models and you ask lots of questions to your friends and competent contacts. You search on Google for your camcorder model and see what others have been saying about it. You go to your friend at the corner electronics store and you ask him what his experience and advice is based on his customers feedback and store sales. That's how you chose and select people.
Why shouldn't it be the same for such critical choices as selecting your partner or new executive marketing manager?
This is why getting your hands dirty now with social media, living the idiosyncracies of this new universe, and exposing yourself to the many conversations that the Web provides is a good path to prepare yourself for the future.
As your certificates and diplomas will lose more and more of their value what will count most is what people out there think of you and what they are willing to say about you when asked to. This is why is increasingly less important to have a degree or master in a discipline, and it is much more important WHO you have been working, interacting and exposing yourself to and WHAT kinds of things you have produced that others can see.
If you say you have been here and there, have done this and that, but then the digital tracks say something different, you suddenly become a self-referential puppet that can survive and get work only within protected circles of friends and allies.
Until today, if you lied, misrepresented or concealed something about your past experiences and credentials, it would be only you and someone else to be sharing that information. Now if you do this in public, by replying to public questions in videos and interviews by hiding or misrepresenting facts to your advantage, not only you run a much bigger risk of losing your credibility but this possible discovery, will not remain a private matter that you can easily forget about.
To gain solid social reputation you need to transparent and accessible. The more you hide or cover up who you really are, to defend or protect your ideal projected persona (who you think you would like to be) the more this will show true, and while your friends and close mates may keep smiling at you, the opportunities to become a respected reference and a trusted source to those beyond it will likely dwindle.
For companies, 2009 will mean the year in which they can start to have a meaningful social media presence. For the most part, companies who have embraced social media so far have done so in a very conservative and somewhat incorrect way. They have landed into social media land bringing in their traditional approaches and behaviours to communications, PR and marketing, which is exactly the opposite of what you want to do to be effective inside social media.
The wrong strategy approach to use in such situations is the one of placing your best PR and marketing people on these tasks, while who should really ride this opportunity are your best and most passionate workers in the operating lines. These are the people that your customers and suppliers want to see and become friends to.
The emergence of a centralized Personal Social Identity Profile.
2009 should also rescue us from the bad situation we have fallen in when it comes to our profiles on social networks and the need to maintain and create separate ones for each new place you sign-up to, with the same frustrating issue affecting also our network of contacts which we have to slowly rebuild across each and every new social community we enter.
What you are likely going to see happen this year is the advent of a new tools and features which will allow you to create a centralized and very comprehensive social profile of yourself and of your network contacts and which will then allow you to share and submit selected parts of it to each of the new web communities and social services you will later join.
This will save you a ton of time and frustration, while reducing friction in adopting or testing out new services and tools.
In 2009 you will see some of my original ideas BOUT X-Events become reality. In 2008 already a handful of companies has started to challenge the X-event puzzle by developing tools and projects around the fundamental idea of creating resources to facilitate the creation and realization of events that went beyond their physical occurrence.
X-events are strongly tied to social media development and the ability of individuals to meet and exchange openly across multiple and diverse communities and social networks. X-events (extended events) can provide an ideal platform to extend the relationship building process that live events are built for as well as to fuel a much larger and lasting conversations.
Bantora, is one such company, which working and extending the original X-events paradigm is trying to build the first true X-Event platform.
The trend toward extended type of events will give way also to a new approach to virtual conferences: the distributed event. Who said that to have a powerful and memorable event we all need to go to one site or location and do everything there? Can't it be that the event organizers launch a theme, or a set of topics, and then aggregate and list distributed events taking place at this or that site or blog as components of the actual event?
Say for example that an organization has organized an event that you are very interested in, but it is on the other side of the world and you have not been invited to speak. Organizers could set up an extended event section where they list and aggregate distributed events and presentations complementing the event, that either take place on a platform provided to all those uninvited presents who want to contribute their ideas, or which take place directly on the site and presentation locations chosen by the presenter. Such setup would allow for much greater participation and contributions from any people, while clearly requiring a small dedicated team to manage and organize the output generated by the extended event.
It is the first time I am including "open source" as a relevant new media theme to be included in these new media trends and predictions. From WordPress to BlogBridge, open source tools and applications are increasingly part of my work life and I am increasingly strong supporter of their benefits and advantages over traditional commercial applications.
A full professional web publisher toolkit could be made entirely of open source tools like these:
and the list could go on.
If you believe that Free Software and Open Source ideas can help you create better foundations for the future, adopting, contributing to and promoting the use of such technologies can give some tangible force to your ideals.
While this isn't a prediction at all, I expect to see a growing trend of open-source supporters become more vocal in evangelizing the true benefits of their tools, rather than isolating and separating themselves from the open conversation. Just like for the Linux world, I see a need for less self-referential preaching and for a more humble, open and friendly attitude toward popularizing all of the benefits of this great co-operative approach to life and work.
2009 will be the year in which new P2P tools and applications will be released. P2P will keep growing and getting more traction and adoption. From file sharing, to content distribution P2P technologies offer a wealth of benefits and opportunities that have not yet been understood and used by those commercial entities who would most benefit from them.
Peer to peer technologies are also a natural extension of social collaborative networks and of the need to de-centralize from big corporate hands the monopoly of publishing and sharing information.
I also predict that new attempts at creating parallel P2P internets, or alternative support networks that would connect individuals even if and when the established Internet would not be in the position to respond as needed. There are already working examples of such parallel networks in existence and there are bright individuals studying and working on ways to make this possible.
Online collaboration technologies from web conferencing to persistent collaborative spaces have yet a long way to go to reach some kind of maturity and 2009 will offer once again an opportunity for new ones to jump in and for many of the established players to deeply innovate and improve on their existing good work.
The classic, all-round web conferencing platforms have been given lots of way to new, smaller, faster and easier to use collaboration tools. The past trend has been from large and complex to small, modular and easy to use solutions. Prices for big, top brand web conferencing and collaboration services have been dropping all along, and, from what I see, will need to drop some more to be able to compete with this growing group of smaller and highly performing collaboration tools. If you have no idea of who I am talking about give a look to the over 200 collaboration tools that have been mapped by over 150 participants at my live session at LearningTrends 2008.
I am not expecting to see a decrease in the number of tools listed in that collaboration map 12 months from now.
You are indeed going to see more and better conferencing, collaboration and live presentation tools come to market, as there is a growing demand for such tools, and existing solutions are often still too clunky, unreliable or difficult to be used by non-technical people.
Innovation and new collaboration tools you will see in 2009 will include:
The ideal collaboration architecture is modular and highly flexible. You subscribe to a service and activate the collaboration features you need on-demand. Such architecture is embedded and contextual to the production and office tools you use daily, much like Google will be doing in 2009 thanks to its integrated web-based approach.
The winning business model is free basic services, with premium paid accounts getting advanced, business-oriented features. Period. Free trials are a thing of the past. Instead now collaboration providers will move to proactively reward customers who will invite and extend the customer base by providing them with free or extended account plans. This also is a winning strategy.
Technology-wise Adobe Flash is going to be the fundamental technology behind many of these new tools. Whether you like it or not Flash is now the best portable multimedia publishing technology out there, supporting text, audio, video and interactive collaboration right from within its basic engine. Its upcoming and announced capabilities in managing different bandwidth streams requests intelligently as well as its promising auto text transcription abilities may prove to provide huge benefits for anyone using them.
In 2009 an ongoing virtual conference venue will open in hundreds of speakers and topics will be explored both live and in a recorded format. This will be kind of a YouTube of live powerful presentations, and while anyone can sign-up to present in the available slots, it is the public who decides who is featured and who should get the most promotion and visibility.
This non-stop conferencing stage will likely offer multiple thematic channels, and the opportunity for anyone with good ideas and an ability for presenting them to do so in front of a potentially unlimited audience. Just like on YouTube.
Adobe or Microsoft could be ideal sponsors of such an idea but it may be that a small company with a quicker ability to move could steal this opportunity from the one of these big names. Better yet an academic institution could have its way in organizing this idea, with the sponsorship of one of those big names providing the basic platform and with the public goal of creating a unique venue for cultivating knowledge, culture and ideas of all kinds.
I am confident also that in 2009 online collaborative approaches and new tools will keep showing up also in other important areas of the media universe such as music production and performance, live video / television production and film-making, news reporting, news investigation, news production and newsroom teamwork.
As I have written elsewhere, 2009 will see the raise of independent professional educator. This is the individual, who without the requirement of having an official certification, is willing to share his know-how or skills with others according to the terms and conditions sHe establishes.
There have been many people doing this on the Web already, either moved by genuine educational motives, by marketing approaches or by the desire to simply share what they had just discovered for themselves. What changes now is a rapidly increasing awareness that those capable of doing this, whatever the real of their knowledge is, will become increasingly useful and in-demand by others.
So, it is not so much what you know, but how much of what you know can you actually share and teach to others effectively?
Knowing things per se, having lots of information in your head without having the ability to put it into useful practice is going to have less and less value in most professional endeavours. What will be increasingly valued instead will be your ability to search and find resources, tools and relevant information on any topic just-in-time, when you will need it.
New tools and services to support such emerging new role are going to appear in 2009. Good initial examples of these are new web services like Wiziq and BuddySchool which provide anyone with a platform for sharing, presenting and teaching to others with their preferred method and approach.
Certification and tests are going to lose value progressively. What will increasingly count is what you have done and what other people say of you in one way or another.
What university you have attended and what score you have graduated with are becoming increasingly irrelevant, as the ability to be able to confront brand new problems and issues, being able to collaborate efficiently with peers, having the skill to communicate clearly and effectively your ideas have become much more important assets than the number of years you have spent studying.
Who you know, who you have worked with, and who is willing to recommend and reference your skills are the strategic assets you should start cultivating more in 2009.
Test and certifications measure your ability to answer pre-determined questions and to see whether you have properly memorized information about something.
Tests are very bad at measuring how well you will perform in a real-life situation and this is why i think they are a fundamentally bad strategy to build our future. By training our kids not to learn how to manage complexity and issues but to guess well in advance of time what the questions at the exam are going to be we dumb down all of their creative possibilities and we certify well ahead of time their inability to be able to cope with the world of complexity and fast change we live in.
For one, I have decided that in 2009 I will want to make greater sense of where things are going by video interviewing those that see a bit ahead of everyone else - lots of video interviews and analysis of how others are doing things is going to be a central theme of MasterNewMedia in 2009. Be your own boss and how others have been successful at achieving it is going to be the underlying theme driving this extended video series.
As already announced in the first part of this report I am launching a new MasterNewMedia design right this month (a small preview was showcased yesterday as well) while still engineering the best way to bring Robin Good's international community of followers and fans to life. Unhappy with existing traditional forum solutions and with the first community building tools available now. I am pretty sure though that soon enough I will be provided with the technology I need to realize this ideal.
As I see it this would be a mashup between what I can do via blog comments, a forum, a community platform like Ning, a localized Seesmic, a community oriented version of Twitter, all packaged as a portable, distributed Facebook-like service to create a rich, and well organized community space that can exist both on my site as well as any other place where I or others will want to replicate it.
On the video front I am going again to bring a live video show to everyone, and focusing on web publishing as my key focus area.
In the last year I haven't been able to do as much as I had desired on this front due to many technical connectivity issues at my studio location here in Rome. I need a fast and reliable connection no matter what it costs, and I need someone that is properly skilled to reconfigure and upgrade my small studio network so that there are no bottlenecks or data loss. My bet is that we kill the bull right away and that this will give me some too long awaiting opportunities for sharing and helping other online publishers out.
In 2009 I will also experiment with the launch of some information products and learning services again connected to my professional web publishing focus and I will keep myself on the lookout for new candidates to my new media publisher internship program (for more info see here).
I guess there would be a lot more to talk and say about what is coming next... but for the time being I leave it here.
Your feedback, comments, tips and suggestions are always welcome.
End of Part 2
Originally written by Robin Good for MasterNewMedia and first published on January 1st, 2009 as "New Media Trends And Predictions 2009: What Independent Web Publishers Should Expect - Part 2".